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Chronicles of the Black Company

Started by droqen, October 20, 2021, 01:22:23 PM

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Quote from: The Books of the South, p327Her schemes could kill thousands, could distress millions, and to her it was play.

[He said, ]"I'll never understand you."

[...]She was neither young nor empty-headed. "I don't understand myself. But I gave up trying a long time ago. It's distracting."

Games. From the first she had been involved in tortuous maneuvers and manipulations, to no obvious end. Her great pleasure was to watch a scheme flower and devour its victim.

I want to remember this moment in which the motivations behind a character's machinations are exposed... as nothing, as something explicitly intentionally unexamined by the character herself. (Or perhaps merely unrevealed to the perspective character?) It's on a more grand, more evil scale, but these few lines are deeply moving to me about human nature.

Especially "I don't understand myself. But I gave up trying a long time ago. It's distracting." which reminds me distinctly of the interview with Agnes Martin.

The worst thing you can think about is yourself.


Quote from: The Return of the Black Company, p 650"Only a very great evil could remain so single of purpose, so uncaring of cost, as to create something so ultimately useless."


Quote from: The Many Deaths of the Black Company, p241..if you can't think logically and argue logically, then there isn't much hope that you'll have any success with the sorcery, no matter how talented you are. I know, I know. From everything you've seen, the bigger the wizards are, the crazier they are. But within the boundaries of their insanity, every one of them is rigorously, mathematically rational. The entire power of their minds serves their insanity. When they stumble it's because they let emotions or wishful thinking get in the way.


Quote from: The Many Deaths of the Black Company, p382No world lacks its villains so self-confident that they don't believe they can get the best end of a bargain with the darkness. I married one of those. I am not sure she has learned her lesson yet.



Quote from: The Many Deaths.. p676He felt no particular elation. What he felt, in fact, was sorrow. All their lives, his and theirs, had come to no more than this. For a moment there was even the temptation to shout a warning. To cry out that that prideful fool who had made such a stupid choice in Dejagore so long ago had not meant any of them to come to this. But, no. It was too late. Fortune's die was cast. The cruel game had to be played to its end, no matter what anyone wanted.

The impact of this piece of writing doesn't reach its full significance until later in the war (battle?), when Mogaba's trap is sprung on a huge number of main characters. The title of the volume, The Many Deaths of the Black Company is really pushed here... and yet it's also strangely distant? I love the way it's written, the deaths are both deeply impactful as well as very removed. As it often is in the series.

Looking back on Mogaba's sorrow is the bitterest part of this and the most interesting to me. There are other moments leading up to the conflict, moments of hesitation and regret and inevitability... somehow I wasn't expecting such tragedies to befall the Black Company.

I suppose the horror of the trap is not especially visceral. The trap's mechanisms are described but the details of suffering and loss are left entirely unprovoked, between the lines. (Actually there are two traps. And in both cases, the annalist doesn't dwell on much. It's not even clear when a major character dies... Is that what it would be like, in a chaotic wartime situation? This occurs many times throughout the series; there is a discovery, afterwards, of exactly who is lost and who is still alive.)


Quote from: The Many Deaths.. p767[..] but she was just too young. Most of her earnest conversation seemed so naive, or even foolish, that it became hard to recall a time when I was that age, still idealistic and hurling myself at life headlong, believing that truth and right must inevitably triumph.

I kept my opinions to myself. [She] did not deserve to have her surviving optimism skewered by my bitter cynicisms.


QuoteI am a snail with the meat on the outside.


I am rereading The Black Company, this time on my devices -- my phones and my tablets. I was struck today by this passage.

Quote from: Shadow Games, p40. . . The staff came to enquire after my needs. They were revolting in their obsequiousness.
   A disgusting little part of me gobbled it up. A part just big enough to show why some men lust after power. But not for me, thank you. I am too lazy. And I am, I fear, the unfortunate victim of a sense of responsibility. Put me in charge and I try to accomplish the ends to which the office was allegedly created. I guess I suffer from an impoverishment of the sociopathic spirit necessary to go big time.

I must go and reflect upon this passage in my response to Sylvie's Ways of Speaking.


Quote from: The Silver Spike, p 111/365"We thought you were dead with the rest of them, Timmy. Forty thousand people they killed that night. . . ."
"I was out of the city, Mrs. Cisco. I just got back."
"You haven't been home yet?"
"I said I just got in."
Smeds saw he did not like the woman much.
She went all sad and consoling. Even Smeds, who did not consider himself perceptive, saw she was just busting because she was going to get to be the first to pass along some bad news.
"Your dad and both your brothers . . . I'm sorry. They were trying to help fight the fires. Your mother and sister . . . Well, they were conquerors. They did what conquerors always do. Your sister, they mutilated her so bad she ended up killing herself a couple weeks ago."
Timmy shook like he was about to go into convulsions.
"That's enough, madam," Fish said. "You've buried your blade to the heart."
She sputtered, "Why the nerve . . . "
Tully said, "Piss off, bitch. Before I kick your ass up around your ears."

I remembered reading this the first time. It was striking and memorable then, too. Something that I like about reading books. It illuminates little corners of humanity. The ways that people act and the ways that people are. Yesterday (or I guess this morning) before I wrote playing the rain woggle I wanted to touch on this weird topic... I feel like being an author means thinking about these things in a way that being a single-player videogame designer doesn't. But maybe it is, considering that we have all these ideas about what it is that players, that people, want.

It's very different though. I don't want to cater to all these types of people, and not only people who are playing the games, but I want to spend time reflecting on and noticing things about other people, people far beyond the walls of the cyborg.


The very concept of evil or temptation

Quote from: The Silver Spike, LIVThere wasn't no place in the world you could put it that somebody else couldn't get it back from [...] My best notions were to get a bunch of sorcerers together who could elevate it to the other realm and stick it on a passing comet or to have a bunch break a hole through to another plane, pop the spike through, and plug the hole.

Both ways was just cheaters that put the problem off on somebody else. The people of the future when the comet came back or the people of the other plane.

I recently watched Jailbirds as well as Unlocked, a couple docu-reality shows about inmates, which had me reflecting on the nature of prisons/jails. Places where you put people who you need out of the population. In both shows, it revealed a fractal problem to the approach of imprisonment: within the subset there will always be another subset to isolate, to separate.

Putting the problem off on somebody else.


Quote from: Water Sleeps, end of chapter 97. . . nobody wants the absolute truth because time has forged great symbols from raw materials supplied by ancient events. Prosaic distortions of fact metamorphose into perceived truths of the soul.


Quote from: Soldiers Live, end of ch8It was all a game to the Protector. Or possibly several games. Maybe making a game of it was how you survived spiritually in a world where everyone else was ephemeral.


Quote from: Soldiers Live, beginning of ch11Old Baladitya has abandoned all hope of establishing an exact truth and, instead, seeks the deeper range of meaning underpinning what the golem does reveal. Baladitya understands that in addition to being foreign territory the past is, as history, a hall of mirrors . . .